Now that I had the promise of Divine help, I was energized and eager to share, to give, to help, to heal.
The kids went back to school and Irene went back to work, teaching in Canby. Tim’s pain spread its wings. Bone pain, stomach pain. Doctor Chandler upped the morphine, and started him on radiation to reduce the tumors and for pain relief. His teacher and National Guard friends came by during the day to spend time with him and, now and then, chauffeur him to treatments when I could not.
Irene and I developed a pattern—she would drive Tim to Gladstone on her way to work, I’d meet them there in the parking lot of the supermarket, and Tim would transfer painfully to my car—never an easy process. I would drive him to his appointment or treatment.
On one particular crisp Fall day, I picked him up at home for an afternoon radiation treatment. Getting him into the van was a trial, it pained him so to lift his legs into the seat. Once inside, he collapsed back against the seat and we pulled out onto Old Cemetery Road. He slept all the way into Portland. When I pulled up in front of the clinic, he groaned.
“Give me a minute.” He took deep breaths, gathered his strength to get his suffering body out of the van and into the clinic, and worse, up onto the high metal radiation table.
“Let me get you a wheelchair,” I said.
“No. I can do it. If you’ll just open the doors.”
I opened the van door, offered him my arm to lean on, and we hobbled in.
The nurse came out to the waiting room to get Tim. He was half-lying in the chair, his body contorted in pain. She went back into the offices and came out with a wheelchair, helped him into it. She would have to get him into a hospital gown, too. My whole body ached with his agony.
Twenty minutes later she wheeled him out and handed him over to me. His face was dead-white, and he breathed in shallow pants.
“What…?” I said.
The nurse gave a small rueful smile. “Just getting on and off the table,” she said. “It’s so hard for him.” She patted his arm. “See you tomorrow,” she said, and disappeared back into the radiation dungeon.
I turned the wheelchair toward the door, dreading the few minutes it would take to get him safely into the van.
“Wait, Judy.” His voice was strained and faint. “In there.” He waved the tips of his fingers toward the dressing cubicles. I pushed him into a cubicle and he doubled over, dropping his head to his knees.
“Where does it hurt?” I said.
“Back,” he gasped, and pressed one hand to his lower back.
My hands slid down against his back, I closed my eyes, pleaded desperately for Jesus to help me, and let the undulations take over. Let the hands cover my hands. Prayed. I lost track of time.
Tim slowly sat up straight and arched his back. “Amazing,” he said. “Thank you, Judy. We can go now.” He stood up wobbling, grabbed my arm with both hands, held on, and we shuffled to the door.
Once in the van and on the road, Tim gave me his piercing look.
“I’d definitely call that a healing touch.”
“Yes. And not a moment too soon. We had no time to waste.”
“How’d you do it?”
“Well, seems like it was a Higher Power again. I went to the beach. You’d never guess who showed up and said he’d help.”
“I give up.”
“Jesus. In person.”
“Do you believe me? Or is it too weird?”
He arched his back, leaned forward. “You know that thing about no atheists in foxholes?”
“Well, this is a big shitty foxhole. Hell, I’m willing to suspend non-belief if it means I can get well.”
He leaned back, stretched his legs, yawned, obviously more comfortable now.
“Especially now that you’re going to help me heal.”
He fell asleep, and I drove on toward Mt. Hood, pondering. Had I really had a vision of Jesus? Or did I imagine it? After all, the image I had seen from the corner of my eye was straight out of my childhood picture-Bible, a possibly Caucasian man with long wavy hair, draped in robes.
What if I had conjured it up because I didn’t have confidence in my own ability to heal?
And what if I had? So what? Apparently I was helping Tim’s pain, and if it took a conjured-vision to do that, sobeit. I would accept it, and there would be time for questions later.
For now, I was committed. This new energy gave me confidence and assurance. And I could help Tim heal. That was enough.